I took a wild hiatus from writing. I think it's a mix of needing change (taking Chinese and meditation courses) and also the very real fact that all of the themes I have written about in the past stay very true in the present. This is what I actually like about this process: the themes and life-long lessons stay firm if you go through the process with a genuine, thoughtful and "fit for me" approach. It's also why I wrote a book on the process: you don't need to talk to me personally to learn about this process or have immense growth from it. You can read about it, too. And have great success.
Back on here now to share some thoughts on the immediate situation at hand--COVID-19--vis à vis applications; yet, I suspect what I will write will show that the intentions of the process and outcomes-related-to-how-you-engage-within-it will not.
If you have read my book and/or posts you'll know that I see just about no value in standardized testing for university admissions. And, if you're reading this, you're fairly well-informed as a parent or student as is--to get here and to have a connection with what I say and how I work requires an understanding and willingness to understand beyond numbers, rankings, names and what the neighbors say. So, you'll know about the myriad studies over *years* showing that ACT/SAT scores do not dictate how well a student will do at university and also that ACT/SAT tests themselves are catered to those who have the means and abilities to allow for preparation, planning and strategy. I see on an anecdotal level how my students' intellect is not matched by their scores on these tests, the amount of time, energy and stress dedicated over months--years--to preparing for these useless exams takes away from my students' thoughtful learning, expression and discovery and, that, at the end of the day, the scores can be fairly meaningless. I've had enough students with low scores--far outside of the middle 50% range of an institution--gain entry because the process is holistic and the rest of their applications were stand-out, genuine and real. Admissions wanted these kids on their campuses, test scores or not.
And, so, now we are faced with another testing dilemma. For our rising Seniors who will graduate in 2021, testing is almost a non-issue. If my students already took the ACT/SAT, fine. If they did not, I am telling them not to even try to sign up. Most universities are test optional and at this stage--late June 2020--my students should be putting their efforts into other things, such as a proper summer break for my Northern Hemisphere students which includes a summer project appropriate to their unique selves and within the confines and restrictionsu of the virus. But, even for my rising Juniors, I am sending a similar message: be careful to not over-extend your energy here with testing. We have seen over the past five-plus years that universities are putting less emphasis on SAT/ACT in the US, with several highly competitive institutions like the University of Chicago going fully test optional in their admissions, virus or not. I have always said this trend will continue--away from testing--as we see how useless it is as an indicator and how destructive it can be as a requirement. But, the virus has helped this come further out into the open, as testing sites and dates are cancelled and future testing dates are up in the air. The fact that The College Board or ACT gives "priority" to some students to sign up for future dates makes the situation even worse and more pathetic. Here are multi-million dollar companies going into panic mode worried that their tests--and entire business model--won't be supported by universities who for the most part are reasonable and student-forward, and who are realizing that it's not only not fair to require these of their applicants, but it will, also, affect potential applications from being submitted, affecting their bottom line and rankings and standings. I am not--as some of my colleagues stated they do--telling my students to sit in front of their computers and spend as many hours as it takes to get a place for the next test date. What does this teach them? Let's help young adults not fall into the trap that is set here and encourage them to think about this situation and what *they* think makes sense for them. Most will tell you--in fact all of my students told me--that they will aim for a certain test date and do their best to get it but that logic and reason usurp any tendency for panic.
I sent this note to my rising Juniors this past week:
I've been saying to you for a while now that I suspect even with your admissions year--a year from now is when you'll be working on your applications--standardized testing will take a back seat, if any.
I'm not just reading about it but also looking at trends over the past several years: their importance is waning, as a whole. That doesn't mean you won't have to take them or submit them--I know all of you have a standarized testing plan and it's important to keep that and follow through with it, barring any obstacles, such as COVID for rising Seniors this year. However, I will reiterate that your grades, your genuine activities and the depth you involve yourself in each of those, your recommendations from teachers and your ability to show Admissions that you are a fit will all usurp any standardized testing.
So, think about your energy and where you're putting it. No doubt you have to plan to take these tests and prepare for them, duly and thoughtfully. But, don't let that outweigh your work in the classroom or your endeavors outside, the latter which really shows your "weight" and potential, in particular this summer.
Let me know if you have any questions.
See you soon,
Students, focus on what matters. Focus on your schoolwork. Focus on your interests. Focus on being a better citizen. Focus on your community. Focus on trying something new. Focus on making a difference. Focus on what makes you genuinely happy.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions or feedback.